Why conversionist stories promote dishonesty

It’s more than just the temptation to give our stories, as Burke writes, “a little stretch” with an eye to make them more compelling calls for “winning souls for Christ.” That idea — that exaggerations are acceptable because they serve this higher purpose of spreading the gospel and saving souls — is a key to the rationalization that defends the tendency toward dishonest conversion stories, but I don’t think it’s the cause of that tendency. [Read more…]

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Smart people saying smart things (11.3)

Digby on David Barton’s growing influence in the Republican Party. Rick Pearlstein and Brad DeLong have more to say about the current state of the GOP. The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry states it plain. And Samantha Field on turning away from lies she’d been taught. [Read more…]

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Do surgeons wear latex gloves in Catholic hospitals?

I’ve heard and seen this claim endlessly repeated by apparently well-meaning white evangelicals for decades. In their circles, this is something that Everyone Knows to be true — even though it’s completely false. And even though it’s transparently false — a bogus claim that can’t withstand even a momentary bit of scrutiny. [Read more…]

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Smart people saying smart things (10.15)

Dahlia Lithwick on “Carly Fiorina’s Big Lie.” Therese Oneill looks at “the terrifying medical logic of 18th-century law.” Kate Botkin and Kathy Khang respond to a pair of prominent white Christian racists. And Edmund Waldstein discusses how usury fuels “the psychology of the conquistadors.” [Read more…]

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The lazy imagination of the witch-hunter

If we can find someone worse to compare ourselves to, then we can feel better about ourselves without having to change anything we’re doing or anything we’re becoming. Alas, however, this technique only works briefly before it begins producing diminishing returns. So we will need to identify some person or group who are even worse, and then worse still. This is a process of slothful imagination and it always ends up in the same way, with the same lazy stock character of the Very Worst People we can imagine. Yes, that’s right, say it with me: Satanic baby-killers. [Read more…]

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Bad faith in witch hunts and moral panics

“If something wasn’t happening, why do so many intelligent, well-educated professionals believe it is?” Lanning says. “Regardless of intelligence and education, and often despite common sense and evidence to the contrary, adults tend to believe what they want or need to believe; the greater the need, the greater the tendency. There was a need to believe.” [Read more…]

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Smart people saying smart things (8.30)

Glenn Greenwald on “journalists” against journalism. Jeet Heer and Sarah Posner on Donald Trump. Eric Foner on pseudo-politics and psycho-politics. And a Martin Luther King Jr. speech that revisionist fantasists like to pretend doesn’t exist because they’re too busy attributing out-of-context W.E.B. DuBois quotes to Margaret Sanger so they can play-act like they’re Bonhoeffer fighting Hitler. [Read more…]

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The culture war has always been about race

Before the Reagan years, the culture wars were an anti-civil-rights struggle focused on race (“states’ rights,” busing, etc.), which drew support from white evangelical voters. After the Reagan years, the culture wars became an anti-feminist struggle focused on sex (abortion, LGBT rights, etc.), which solidified that white evangelical support into the GOP’s largest and most reliable voting bloc. That was a huge change. Or, maybe, it wasn’t. [Read more…]

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